Washington, Jan 4 (EFE).- American astronaut Walter Cunningham, who piloted the Apollo 7 lunar module, the first manned flight in Nasa’s Apollo Program, has died in Houston aged 90 years old.
Cunningham died on Tuesday at a hospital in Houston from natural causes.
“Walt Cunningham was a fighter pilot, physicist, and an entrepreneur – but, above all, he was an explorer,” Nasa administrator, Bill Nelson, said in a statement.
“On Apollo 7, the first launch of a crewed Apollo mission, Walt and his crewmates made history, paving the way for the Artemis Generation we see today,” Nelson added.
Cunningham was born on March 16, 1932, in Creston, Iowa.
He received BAs with honors in Humanities and Physics in 1960 and received an MS with distinction in Physics in 1961 from the University of California, Los Angeles.
He joined the Navy in 1951 and served on active duty with the US Marine Corps, retiring as a colonel and having flown 54 missions as a night fighter pilot in Korea.
After working as a scientist in a private corporation, he was selected as an astronaut in 1963, as part of the third generation of Nasa astronauts.
“On behalf of Nasa’s Johnson Space Center, we are beholden to Walt’s service to our nation and dedication to the advancement of human space exploration,” Vanessa Wyche, center director, said.
On October 11, 1968, Cunningham piloted an 11-day flight, the first manned test of the Apollo space project.
Alongside Walter M. Schirra, Jr. and Donn F. Eisele, Walter and the team successfully completed eight test flights, including the first televised transmission of onboard crew activities in space, Nasa noted in its statement.
The famed 263-hour flight ended with a splash on October 22, 1968, when it landed in the Atlantic Ocean.EFE